They’re making some progress; they need to make more. That’s why on day one I will label them a currency manipulator which allows us to apply tariffs where they’re taking jobs. They’re stealing our intellectual property, our patents, our designs, our technology, hacking into our computers, counterfeiting our goods. They have to understand, we want to trade with them, we want a world that’s stable, we like free enterprise, but you got to play by the rules.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, Governor, let me just ask you, if you declare them a currency manipulator on day one, some people are saying you’re just going to start a trade war with China on day one. Is that — isn’t there a risk that that could happen?
MR. ROMNEY: Well, they sell us about this much stuff every year. And we sell them about this much stuff every year. So it’s pretty clear who doesn’t want a trade war. And there’s one going on right now that we don’t know about. It’s a silent one and they’re winning. We have an enormous trade imbalance with China. And it’s worse this year than last year. And it was worse last year than the year before.
And — and so we have to understand that we can’t just surrender and — and lose jobs year in and year out. We have to say to our friends in China, look, you guys are playing aggressively, we understand it, but — but this can’t keep on going. You can’t keep on holding down the value of your currency, stealing our intellectual property, counterfeiting our products, selling them around the world, even into the United States.
I was with one company that makes valves in — in process industries. And they said, look, we were — we were having some valves coming in that — that were broken, and we had to repair them under warranty. And we looked them up, and — and they had our serial number on them. And then we noticed that — that there was more than one with that same serial number. They were counterfeit products being made overseas with the same serial number as a U.S. company, the same packaging. These were being sold into our market and around the world as if they were made by the U.S. competitor.
This can’t go on. I want a great relationship with China. China can be our partner. But — but that doesn’t mean they can just roll all over us and steal our jobs on an unfair basis.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Governor Romney’s right. You are familiar with jobs being shipped overseas, because you invested in companies that were shipping jobs overseas. And, you know, that’s your right. I mean, that’s how our free market works.
But I’ve made a different bet on American workers. You know, if we had taken your advice, Governor Romney, about our auto industry, we’d be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China. If we take your advice with respect to how we change our tax codes so that companies that are in profits overseas don’t pay U.S. taxes compared to companies here that are paying taxes, now, that’s estimated to create 800,000 jobs. The problem is they won’t be here; they’ll be in places like China. And if we’re not making investments in education and basic research, which is not something that the private sector is doing at a sufficient pace right now and has never done, then we will lose the lead in things like clean energy technology.
Now, with respect to what we’ve done with China already, U.S. exports have doubled, since I came into office, to China. And actually, currencies are at their most advantageous point for U.S. exporters since 1993. We absolutely have to make more progress, and that’s why we’re going to keep on pressing.
And when it comes to our military and Chinese security, part of the reason that we were able to pivot to the Asia-Pacific region after having ended the war in Iraq and transitioning out of Afghanistan, is precisely because this is going to be a massive growth area in the future. And we believe China can be a partner, but we’re also sending a very clear signal that America is a Pacific power, that we are going to have a presence there. We are working with countries in the region to make sure, for example, that ships can pass through, that commerce continues. And we’re organizing trade relations with countries other than China so that China starts feeling more pressure about meeting basic international standards. That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown in the region. That’s the kind of leadership that we’ll continue to show.
MR. ROMNEY: I just want to take one of those points. Again, attacking me is not talking about an agenda for getting more trade and opening up more jobs in this country. But the president mentioned the auto industry and that somehow I would be in favor of jobs being elsewhere. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars. And I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry. My plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks. It was President Bush that wrote the first checks. I disagree with that. I said they need — these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, and in that process they can get government help and government guarantees, but they need to go through bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the debt burden that they’d — they’d built up.
And fortunately the president picked —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor Romney, that’s not what you said.
MR. ROMNEY: Fortunately, the president — you can take — you can take a look at the op-ed.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, you did not —
MR. ROMNEY: You can take a look at the op-ed.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You did not say that you would provide, Governor, help.
MR. ROMNEY: You know, I’m — I’m still speaking. I said that we would provide guarantees and — and that was what was able to allow these companies to go through bankruptcy, to come out of bankruptcy. Under no circumstances would I do anything other than to help this industry get on its feet. And the idea that has been suggested that I would liquidate the industry — of course not. Of course not.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Let’s check the record.
MR. ROMNEY: That’s the height of silliness.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Let’s — let’s check the record.
MR. ROMNEY: I have never said I would — I would liquidate the industry. I want to keep the industry growing and thriving.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, the people in Detroit don’t forget.
MR. ROMNEY: And — and that’s I have the kind of commitment to make sure that our industries in this country can compete and be successful. We in this country can compete successfully with anyone in the world. And we’re going to. We’re going to have to have a president, however, that doesn’t think that somehow the government investing in — in car companies like Tesla and — and Fisker, making electric battery cars — this is not research, Mr. President. These are the government investing in companies, investing in Solyndra. This is a company. This isn’t basic research. I — I want to invest in research. Research is great. Providing funding to universities and think tanks — great. But investing in companies? Absolutely not. That’s the wrong way to go.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, the fact of the matter is —
MR. ROMNEY: I’m still speaking.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well — (chuckles) —
MR. ROMNEY: So I want to make sure that we make — we make America more competitive —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah.
MR. ROMNEY: — and that we do those things that make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, innovators, businesses to grow. But your investing in companies doesn’t do that. In fact it makes it less likely for them to come here —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right, Governor —
MR. ROMNEY: — because the private sector’s not going to invest in a — in a — in a solar company if —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m happy — I’m — I’m — I’m happy to respond —
MR. ROMNEY: — if you’re investing government money and someone else’s.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You’ve held the floor for a while. The — look, I think anybody out there can check the record. Governor Romney, you keep on trying to, you know, airbrush history here.
You were very clear that you would not provide government assistance to the U.S. auto companies even if they went through bankruptcy. You said that they could get it in the private marketplace. That wasn’t true. They would have gone through a —
MR. ROMNEY: You’re wrong. You’re wrong, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I — no, I am not wrong.
MR. ROMNEY: You’re wrong.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I am not wrong. And —
MR. ROMNEY: People can look it up. You’re right.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: People will look it up.
MR. ROMNEY: Good.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: But more importantly, it is true that in order for us to be competitive, we’re going to have to make some smart choices right now. Cutting our education budget — that’s not a smart choice. That will not help us compete with China. Cutting our investments in research and technology — that’s not a smart choice. That will not help us compete with China. Bringing down (sic) our deficit by adding $7 trillion of tax cuts and military spending that our military’s not asking for before we even get to the debt that we currently have — that is not going to make us more competitive. Those are the kinds of choices that the American people face right now. Having a tax code that rewards companies that are shipping jobs overseas instead of companies that are investing here in the United States — that will not make us more competitive.
And — and the one thing that I’m absolutely clear about is that after a decade in which we saw drift, jobs being shipped overseas, nobody championing American workers and American businesses, we’ve now begun to make some real progress. What we can’t do is go back to the same policies that got us into such difficulty in the first place. And that’s why we have to move forward and not go back.
MR. ROMNEY: I couldn’t agree more about going forward, but I certainly don’t want to go back to the policies of the last four years. The policies of the last four years have seen incomes in America decline every year for middle-income families, now down $4,300 during your term, 23 million Americans still struggling to find a good job. When you came into office, 32 million people on food stamps — today 47 million people on food stamps.
When you came to office, just over $10 trillion in debt — now $16 trillion in debt. It hasn’t worked. You said by now we’d be at 5.4 percent unemployment. We’re 9 million jobs short of that. I’ve met some of those people. I’ve met them in Appleton, Wisconsin. I — I met a young woman in — in — in Philadelphia who’s coming out of — out of college, can’t find work. I’ve been — Ann was with someone just the other day that was just weeping about not being able to get work. It’s just a tragedy in a nation so prosperous as ours that these last four years have been so hard.
And that — and that’s why it’s so critical that we make America once again the most attractive place in the world to start businesses, to build jobs, to grow the economy. And that’s not going to happen by — by just hiring teachers. Look, I — I love to — I love teachers, and I’m happy to have states and communities that want to hire teachers, do that. I — by the way, I don’t like to have the federal government start pushing its way deeper and deeper into — into our schools. Let the states and localities do that. I was a governor. The federal government didn’t hire our teachers.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor —
MR. ROMNEY: But I love teachers. But I want to get our private sector growing, and I know how to do it.
MR. SCHIEFFER: I think we all love teachers. (Laughter.) Gentlemen, thank you so much for a very vigorous debate. We have come to the end. It is time for closing statements. I believe you’re first, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, thank you very much Bob, Governor Romney, and to Lynn University.
You know, you’ve now heard three debates, months of campaigning and way too many TV commercials. (Laughter.) And now you’ve got a choice. You know, over the last four years, we’ve made real progress digging our way out of policies that gave us two prolonged wars, record deficits and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
And Governor Romney wants to take us back to those policies: a foreign policy that’s wrong and reckless; economic policies that won’t create jobs, won’t reduce our deficit, but will make sure that folks at the very top don’t have to play by the same rules that you do.
And I’ve got a different vision for America. I want to build on our strengths. And I put forward a plan to make sure that we’re bringing manufacturing jobs back to our shores by rewarding companies and small businesses that are investing here not overseas. I want to make sure we’ve got the best education system in the world and we’re retraining our workers for the jobs of tomorrow.
I want to control our own energy by developing oil and natural gas, but also the energy sources of the future. Yes, I want to reduce our deficit by cutting spending that we don’t need, but also by asking the wealthy to do a little bit more so that we can invest in things like research and technology that are the key to a 21st century economy.
As commander in chief, I will maintain the strongest military in the world, keep faith with our troops and go after those who would do us harm. But after a decade of war, I think we all recognize we got to do some nation building here at home, rebuilding our roads, our bridges and especially caring for our veterans who’ve sacrificed so much for our freedom.
You know, we’ve been through tough times, but we always bounce back because of our character, because we pull together. And if I have the privilege of being your president for another four years, I promise you I will always listen to your voices, I will fight for your families and I will work every single day to make sure that America continues to be the greatest nation on earth. Thank you.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor.
MR. ROMNEY: Thank you, Bob, Mr. President, folks at Lynn University — good to be with you. I’m optimistic about the future. I’m excited about our prospects as a nation. I want to see peace. I want to see growing peace in this country, it’s our objective. We have an opportunity to have real leadership. America’s going to have that kind of leadership and continue to promote principles of peace that’ll make a world the safer place and make people in this country more confident that their future is secure.
I also want to make sure that we get this economy going. And there are two very different paths the country can take. One is a path represented by the president, which, at the end of four years, would mean we’d have $20 trillion in debt, heading towards Greece. I’ll get us on track to a balanced budget. The president’s path will mean continuing declining in take-home pay. I want to make sure our take-home pay turns around and starts to grow. The president’s path means 20 million people out of work struggling for a good job. I’ll get people back to work with 12 million new jobs. I’m going to make sure that we get people off of food stamps not by cutting the program but by getting them good jobs.
America’s going to come back. And for that to happen, we’re going to have to have a president who can work across the aisle. I was in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. I learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle. We’ve got to do that in Washington. Washington is broken. I know what it takes to get this country back. And we’ll work with good Democrats and good Republicans to do that.
This nation is the hope of the earth. We’ve been blessed by having a nation that’s free and prosperous thanks to the contributions of the Greatest Generation. They’ve held a torch for the world to see, the torch of freedom and hope and opportunity. Now it’s our turn to take that torch. I’m convinced we’ll do it. We need strong leadership. I’d like to be that leader, with your support. I’ll work with you. I’ll lead you in an open and honest way. And I ask for your vote. I’d like to be the next president of the United States to support and help this great nation, and to make sure that we all together maintain America as the hope of the earth. Thank you so much.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Gentlemen, thank you both so much. That brings an end to this year’s debates. And we want to thank Lynn University and its students for having us. As I always do at the end of these debates, I leave you with the words of my mom who said, go vote. It makes you feel big and strong.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s great.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Good night.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you.